Nine to go and all to play for

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As I write Chelsea are engaged in a Moneybags League tussle with Inter Milan and it’s not a pretty sight. It’s like watching two steroid junkies in fat suits trying to wrestle and thread a needle simultaneously; the subtleties of the game have been lost in the tension. It’s less a football match and more an exercise in desperate self-justification.

I’m jealous of course. It’s not just because the ‘entertainment’ at Stamford Bridge is spiteful and petty that I’m more interested in what’s going on at the DW Stadium where Villa are taking on Wigan. Should the Latics turn over O’Neill’s snore inducing mixture of giants and speed merchants they’ll be doing us a favour, and we’re going to need several large ones if we’re going to finish this season with a ticket for next year’s snarlfest safely in our hands. The Champions League is over hyped, over blown, over rated and provides countless games of tedium and mediocrity and it’s where we want to be. It is the modern day mark of a successful team. Never mind the trophies, feel the weight of the bags of cash.

We’ve nine matches left, four at home and five away. If we win them all then we’re uncatchable unless Villa do likewise & Emile Heskey goes goal crazy. We’re not going to win them all though, there’s too many tough ones and there’s been little in our performances this season to suggest that we have what it takes to go to places where it’s difficult to win and get results. Additionally there’s been nothing to show that we can take points from the top three sides. Or not so far there hasn’t.

The team has already changed and evolved several times in the seven months since the heady opening day win over Liverpool (when no-one realised they were crap) and the football lesson handed out to Hull City a few days later and I think it needs to change again. The side in August was built around the pace and skill of Lennon, Defoe and Modric. Modric’s injury against Birmingham was the first dent in that model but Krancjar looked a more than adequate replacement by chipping in with goals and looking the bargain buy he was. This version of the side climaxed with the 9-1 result against Wigan.

We then went through a stodgy period where goals were harder to find & we came to rely more on the mighty Dawson’s stalwart defending and hoofs up to Crouch. The style suffered but we picked up important points against Blackburn and Man City and conceded one goal in a six game run from mid-December onwards, but that was a run that included a damaging loss to Wolves, a draw with Hull and the injury to Lennon from which he’s still not returned.

Following the abysmal performances at Anfield and Molineux the third incarnation of the 2009/10 team formed. Redknapp made changes and whether by luck or judgement he’s seen the wing play of Bale and the goals of Pavlyuchenko reinvigorate a challenge that appeared to have hit the ‘wall’. Scrappy but deserved wins over Everton, Blackburn and Wigan combined with the slip-ups of those around us have put us back ahead of the pack. To stay there we’re going to have change once again. All of our away victories have come against teams in trouble at the bottom. We’re not going to get maximum points at any of Man City (unbeaten at home), Sunderland (only lost twice), Man United (only lost once) or maybe even at Stoke or Burnley unless we develop qualities that haven’t been evident so far.

We have won 11 of the last 25 Premier League matches where we’ve been ahead at half time, but failed to win the remaining 14. This stat says much. Since Birmingham at home we’ve needed to be in front at half time to win the game. Where are the late goals, the heroic comebacks or the evidence to show that our class and pressure will eventually wear the opposition down? To get good value from our remaining away games, to avoid dropping home points (against Chelsea and the Gooners at least), we’re going to have to prove that we can dig deep through the whole ninety minutes and show that we can score at any time in a game no matter what its state.

The defeats against Liverpool and Wolves (twice) both occurred when we conceded very early and couldn’t get back into it. It’s not a characteristic often associated with Spurs teams down the years, but if we can develop a resiliency that gets us out of those sort of positions (and similar) in the remaining nine games, then we’ll stand a better chance of getting the points we need without having to rely on others, because they’ll let us down, just as Wigan have tonight.

By MF

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1 COMMENT

  1. Nice article! I agree with the sentiment about the late goals – with the top teams there is an expectancy (shared with the opposition) that an equalizer/winner will come eventually, and this is often self-fulfilling.
    Tottenham get the gitters, the atmosphere changes and the players are too nervous to keep up their tempo and get late goals. Luckily our defence has looked brilliant lately, so we haven’t needed any last-gasp heroics.

  2. 2 key games left IMO. Stoke and Man City. The games against the top three are also important, but if we drop points there then I don’t think much harm is done (we aren’t expecting 9 points from them). This Stoke game is key because it is tricky, it is next up and the race for 4th is at its closest yet. If we lose, then the pressure is on, and we will rely on others to slip up. If we were to win, then that really shows intent. A draw fits somewhere between, and I would be content with that. Losing to Man City would really be damaging – unless we build up a 3-point unnassailable lead over them beforehand.

  3. Anon – You are slightly wrong. Villa have more away wins than us – 6 (they won yesterday), and Birmingham have the same as us – 5. Villa are beginning to worry us again because their run-in is so much easier.

  4. Sorry guys

    I dont want to be a downer but i see the final table as

    Man u
    Chels
    Arsen
    Man c
    Villa
    Us
    liverpool

    Obviously it goes without saying that I want us to have 4th but we have to be real about it. Villa have an easy run in and i see them easily picking up 20+ points from the last games, city will pick up 21 we will get 16 at best (stoke = 1, Man city = 1, arsenal =1 chelsea =1, man = 0, of the other 4 games i hope we would be good enough to get 12 points i trust you can see my logic?), liverpool will get 17ish add those to the totals so far and you get the fight for 4th as i have it above.

    Like all of us i hope we get 3 points from both stoke and M city and an extra point at Man U then we would get 4th spot (ithink thats it in a nut shell chaps.

  5. spursforme… its hard to predict any results this season. Villa has a easy run in, but they have dropped points before. Teams in the relegation battle will play their hearts out. And we got about 5-6 teams in the drop zone so any games against them will be unpredictable. What it means is, i don’t think we can predict who will take 4th spot now until maybe about 3-4 games remaining. To me spurs have equal chances with any other team chasing the 4th spot.

  6. The remaining league matches are:
    Stoke (Away)
    Portsmouth (Home)
    Sunderland (Away)
    Arsenal (Home)
    Chelsea (Home)
    Man.Utd (Away)
    Bolton (Home)
    Burnley (Away)

  7. And of course beating Fulham in the replay…beating Pompey in the F.A Cup semis….and going to Wembley again for an F.A Cup final since Gazza crocked his knee in 91…My God has it been that loooong?! 19 years…not being a jinx here…but i can’t wait..our club and the F.A Cup has an intertwined love affair that is set to continue

  8. Read somewhere once that there are three types of lies. There are lies, dammed lies and statistics. Unfortunately in this case the statistics aren’t lying however we must remember that this is (in my view) the premier league the best league in the world where any team can beat any team on any given day look at Man City the other day against Sunderland for all their money and array of players they struggled to get that draw no disrespect to Sunderland they battled hard, and yes other results have gone our way to help our cause (how many times has this not been the case?). In this league skill quality good manager and money will carry you through but sometimes you need a smidgen of luck rub of the green call it what you want but you do need it. Sometimes you get the opposite (bad luck, unlucky decisions we know all about them) but we are due some of the other kind plus we have some triffic players. Example of our bad luck that season last game West Ham lasagne you know the one if we had not lost that we would have got fourth not even taking that game into account if the ref had spotted the ball going three feet past the line at Manure same season we would have made the CL so you see luck has a fair say in the final scheme of things. We do have some tough fixtures coming up but let’s wait and see what’s what when the dust settles you may be pleasantly surprised. Lillywhitetilidie

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